Obama: Africa should stop blaming history for its economic problems

Africa should stop blaming history for its economic problems’ – is Obama right?

US president tells leaders to take responsibility for poverty and under-development rather than blaming colonialism. What do you think of his remarks?

President Barak Obama African trip
Barack Obama on Goree Island in Senegal a passing point for slaves headed to the US. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Barack Obama has told African leaders to stop “making excuses” for ongoing economic problems in their countries, and to look for solutions within rather than blaming the past.

Ahead of a summit of African leaders at the White House next week, the US president tried to dispel the notion that poverty and under-development on the continent results purely from the “onerous debt imposed by the west”.

“As powerful as history is, and you need to know that history, at some point you have to look to the future and say, ‘OK, we didn’t get a good deal then, but let’s make sure that we’re not making excuses for not going forward,’” he told 500 young Africans attending a leadership course in Washington. He added that there was not a single country in Africa that shouldn’t be using its resources better.

His remarks contrast with those of the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who said at a recent African Union meeting that the neo-colonial domination of Africa had impeded development. He also took aim at the pricing of natural resources and western-imposed barriers to trade.

The White House will host African leaders in Washington next week, the largest such gathering in the US. The agenda includes “stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation”, as Obama hopes to build relationships made on his Africa tour in 2013.

Should a US president be telling Africa to stop blaming history for its economic fortunes? Or do the scars of slavery and colonisation leave a legacy to this day?

Vote in our new poll –selecting yes or no – and tell us why in the comments below.

Open contributions: ‘Africa should stop blaming history for its economic fortunes’ – is Obama right?
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